Gokarna – The beach trek

Having only had the chance to trek mountains before, I had never anticipated the concept of a beach trek till I heard it from Abhiyana. I asked Sagar about it and he explained that the trek is about 25 km long stretch comprised of both beaches and hills. I had been dying to visit Gokarna for quite some time but somehow the plan never got cemented with friends.
So when this trek got posted on my Facebook, the idea was just too awesome to say no to. Just imagine! Walking along the beach for hours, playing in the sea; for two days! Yay! 😀
So the day arrives but unfortunately a team outing from office is scheduled on the same day which makes me so tired that I am almost about to cancel the trip. Not to mention that going to Domlur to board the bus felt like a mini-travel in itself. But all woes aside, I did somehow manage to reach on time and join the group. Quite a few new faces, and a very new experience of having two just married couples on board – their romance and jokes and fights can make this blog stretch to day long reading so I shall skip that part 😛

Reaching Gokarna early morning, it was a blissful showered welcome from the skies above and having rain drops wash your face through the tiniest opening of the bus window was a refreshing start to the trip. The trek started at Kumta beach, and oh the sight which met the eyes was unlike anything else. Yes, I have seen beaches before, lots of them but none in rain and clouds and the sea breeze was manifolded many times due to the rain.  After an extremely tiring week at the office and career confusions in mind; the sight in front of me, the noise of sea waves and the feel of sand on naked feet just shut off every other voice around, even the one in my mind. It’s so weird that sometimes, not being able to hear your own voice can feel so good 🙂

The previous beach experiences have only constituted playing in the water, some little running around or sitting on the beach for hours. But this trek made us walk along the beach, taking in every bit of nature at our own pace. Well, we did get scolded by Sagar a lot for making so many pit-stops to click photos but can you blame us? Every few feet, there was a locale serving as the perfect background for a DP or cover pic – yes, all of us target these two photos all the time ; accept it 😀 !

Cover pic no. 1 :P
Cover pic no. 1 😛
DP no 1.
DP no 1.

Well, after crossing Kumta beach, we covered a private beach called Honalli after mounting a hill-top which again blessed us with an awestruck view of the paddy fields on one side, beach on the other and boulders in the sea on the third side. The sight can be best viewed in this pic.  The next 2-3 kms of the trek were on the normal land and that short time away from the beach drove me really crazy – being a hardcore water fan 😀

Just like I described
Just like I described, ain’t it?

Continuing on our trek, it felt majestic to walk along the mountain trail where you can see the sea-waves crashing on the rocks nearby, prompting us all to jump to those and get some good pictures. And did I mention that the mountains were lush green with grass? Never could I imagine a grassland on a mountain near the rocky shores of Arabian sea. This location provided the perfect spot for our lunch and mid-trek rest :). Kadle beach awaited us post-lunch, walking along the stretch of sand leads to discovering so many virgin beaches, where you can actually meet the real inhabitants of the sea. What not we saw – jumping jellyfish, star-fishes sprawled across like stars in the sky, so many different breeds of colourful crabs and oh yea, some skulls ( animals 😛 ) too.

Lunch ke baad aaram!
Lunch ke baad aaram!
Yellow!!
Yellow!!
Taare hatheli par! :P
Taare hatheli par! 😛
Whose's that skull?
Whose’s that skull?

The adventure continued to multiple rounds of ringa-ringa-roses in the sea, tricking people to actually “fall down” in the salty sticky water, bharatnatyam on the beach and guys dancing like girls just for the sake of a funny moment captured via lens.

Baby Doll :P
Baby Doll 😛
All fall down!
All fall down!
Tathaiya, tathaiya Ho!
Tathaiya, tathaiya Ho!

Sagar’s gazes made us continue the walk towards Holanagadde Beach, crossing which we took a right turn towards a village just before Gundenagadi Beach. Into the village, we moved towards our stay for the night, and guess the place! It was Holanagadde Ramajaneya Temple dedicated to lord Hanuman.We had been a little surprised at the prospect of staying in a temple but the hospitality of the priests and their families overwhelmed us all. Hot drink, snacks, bananas – unlimited quantity and us trekkers being extremely exhausted after the long walk and trek were no less than gluttons at that moment. Hot bath and a very hearty dinner later, we all retired for the day on the beds laid down by the temple folks – really, some people are too selfless and generous when it comes to serving guests. All they did for us, for nothing in return, with utmost happiness and content at their hearts. It was amazing staying there, witnessing the evening and early morning aarti, being able to just sit in the temple compound near the Tulsi plant and do nothing and be at peace – ah, bliss 🙂

The one at the temple 🙂
Kashti..
Kashti..

With a fresh start to the next morning, we boarded our bus again and reached the dock near “Sangam” of the Aganashini river with the Arabian sea. Usually, the river dominates the flow of the water over sea, but that day being a rainy one, salt won over sweet. Here, we took a ferry towards Tadadi port, a fishingbank. Seeing fish being caught live is one experience in itself, not a very happy one for me though :-/. On we resumed our trek, walking through an extremely thick and green forest this time, the trail being guarded on both the sides by thorny bushes and wearing sleeveless didn’t help my skin any bit 😦 .

It was raining cats and dogs but that hour-long scratchy and hectic expedition landed us at the Paradise beach also known as the Mahadeva beach. The beauty of the place justified its name and was enough to make me forget all the cuts and marks and just get soaked-in the nature.  A very small stretch of sand, a private beach amidst thick forest on three sides and rocky shore on the fourth. Climbing atop the rocks, sticking our feet in the crevices to prevent slipping, all of us sat tight, holding hands, waiting for the breakers to drown us. This went on for quite some time till a tide made a few of us land on their asses and break a few knees. 😛  Retiring back to the soft sand, Sagar suddenly got this fetish to dig up a three feet deep pit while the rollers came in full-might and ruined his creations. So, a few fellows started giving him a helping hand. As soon as a wave came crashing, these people would pile on top of each other to make sure that the hollow remains hollow. That’s when an idea ( a very stupid one – you will know why in five seconds) strikes me to just go and stand in the pit, to feel the warmer sand and what happened next was beyond my imagination. As soon as I stepped in, one very intelligent human shouted to bury me in that and next I know, half of the group is pushing me to keep me in the pit, while the second half of the crew is filling-in sand around. Waist-deep I was buried, immovable, left to the mercy of the tides and sand washing me off, from head to toe. Well, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade and when friends bury you in sand, become a mermaid 😀 ( Wow! I am poet too! 😛 )

Pari hu main :P
Pari hu main 😛
Poor me :'(
Poor me 😥

Well, the escapade wouldn’t end so easily, would it? Moving on from our favourite spot of the trek, we all got lost on the way to the half-moon beach. I have no idea why it’s named so, maybe it looks like a crescent when viewed from top. But we did spot a half-moon shaped rock here which lead to a short put competition and later long jump, really ??? Girls drew up their own games on the sand, what was it called ? O yea, Hopskotch 😛  While some people were playing, some curious models and photographers ( Before I forget, Kudos to Srini and Satish for the brilliant captures! 🙂 ) were busy getting the job done for their Facebook profile, I missed this one 😦

Nothing could top the adventure we had at the paradise beach, but oh boy! Gokarna doesn’t fail to prove you wrong. Little did we know that climbing atop the mountain past this beach would serve our eyes with the mesmerising view of the Om beach and to actually see where it got its name from. Clinging to the one-and-only coconut tree atop that hill, watching the tourists from top on one side at the Om beach, the mighty breakers at the shores below and in the front, nothing but the vast stretch of the sea. The horizon itself was invisible since the boundary between the sea and the sky had been faded by the grey of the clouds. One could only try to imagine where the end was.

On my right, see the OM ?
On my right, see the OM ?
On my left..
On my left..

Reaching our final destination at the Om beach, it was the first time that I had experienced bliss in the solitude amidst the roar of the seas, the crash of the rains and the giggling of the tourists. Knowing that I was nearing the end of this amazing trek, I just wanted to take it all in, one more time, one last time. I sang, I laughed, I cried and I thanked God, for making me realise one thing I had been asking myself for the past few weeks – what do I really want to do in life ? It may sound silly because I am sure many of us think this umpteen times every day but I had been forced to prod on it very seriously, very recently. And that’s when I realised, that whatever I do in life, wherever I am, if there is one thing that I have to keep on doing, to never stop doing ever, it’s travel. Far or near, easy or difficult, cheap or expensive, to keep walking along many other shores, to keep trekking many other peaks, to keep exploring many other cities, to keep meeting amazing set of people, gaining friends for life all the way…

Three cheers to our group! Hip hip Hurray!
Three cheers to our group! Hip hip Hurray!
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A Trek which literally broke me – Kumar Parvata

Well, those of you who haven’t heard of Kumar Parvata, it is one of the highest peaks in Karnataka and hosts the route of the longest and the most difficult trek in the state. I shall not indulge further into KP details, since that is freely available on google.

I shall use this space to divulge my experience with the trekking group Abhiyana. The group was introduced to me by a friend giving reference as cost-effective and super-fun. I had gone on treks earlier with several other trekking groups, and was keen to try a new one for a change!

The journey started on Friday evening and as always happens, I was apprehensive about the crowd in the group since I travel alone and get introduced to new people on-board every time 🙂 Luckily for me, it was one of the most super-fun, helpful and enthusiast group of people I have had the pleasure of traveling with so far! The trek began at this very base

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Everyone started on an extremely high note – being extremely innocent about the fact that we are going to carry bagpack plus sleeping bag plus sleeping mat plus tent for the next 7 kms ( Read: highly-ambitious-and-stupid Ankita! 😛 ). Well, as they say, slow-death is the worst death – I got to experience the trailer this time.

Staircases made of tree branches and trunks, each step 1 feet apart, we climbed and climbed and when I stopped to ask Sagar – our lead if we had almost completed 2 kms, the look on his face and the evil grin made me cringe and die a little inside.. his exact words being – “If it makes you happy, 2 kms it is” 😥  “Stairway to Heaven” seemed really real here!!!

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My back was pulling me back and every step I took made me realize how extremely stupid decision it was to think that I would be able to make it to the peak very easily. Well, my confidence came from conquering peaks like Mullyanagiri, Tadiyandamol, Chembra, Skandagiri and many more hikes which I was able to do without a break! God finally decided to test my patience and stamina here.

All the prayers I knew and all the energy I had was slowly being sucked out of my soul when I couldn’t see the end to that stupid forest trail ever!Taking a look at my very desperate and sad face, Venkatesh and Kumar decided to off-load my luggage and would not let me stop at all. Kumar went on to offer electrol as well, I really felt like an ICU patient then 😛

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Come-on Ankita, don’t stop here…..

Well, somehow after a few more kms, we finished the forest trail and landed at a very scenic stop, post-which I would just not budge! ~~5 more mins please ~~ Then my prayers were answered when we had to wait for Pavan and party to arrive for water.

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Yea,well – KILL ME NOW!

On we continued, to the grace of God landing at an extremely scenic location where Pavan’s idea of selfies materialized like anything! Posing for good clicks is something which would pump loads of energy in me – people tried to bribe me with pics later to make me move! 😀

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Aren’t we all super-happy to see the fifty shades of green above and the lovely scenery behind. But Pavan was the party pooper to announce “Guys! Let’s start, we are half-way done!” WHAT! ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME! My head started spinning and I would have really punched him there had I been the only one crying about it! 😛

Well, we started again, and by this time I had given up the idea of going to the peak after reaching Bhattaramane. To which, Pavan bribes me with Snickers. Snickers?? Really?? When the back and legs are paining like hell and you feel like dying, a massage would have been a better offer.. 😥

The idea of clicking also seemed destitute at this point. I just wanted to reach the stop and lie and die and whatever. Someone shorten this freaking damn journey for me! Never have I ever experienced a pain this kind, that I actually had to lie down and sleep for 15 mins on the way before we could reach the stop.

All said and done, we reach the stop and grab lunch. This is when I get to know that the rest of the group had left for the peak. I don’t know what happened to me, but I was soo pissed and angry and sad that I decided to try for the peak as well. So, Pavan, Manu, Veena and I start post-lunch to reach KP or the nearest we can to KP.

This is when the mighty sun decides to punish me for even thinking about moving more and comes out in the full bloom. I couldn’t take the heat and the burn on the skin and suddenly the discomfort you get on doing some physical activity post-food started. It’s like the universe didn’t want me to take any step further. At this point, I was almost in tears begging Pavan to go back. But these people wouldn’t stop and kept bribing me about reaching the first mile-stone “Mantapa” – that place never seemed to come to sight however much I walked and hiked. Many pit-stops ahead and almost killing myself in the process, I could finally reach Mantapa.

And that’s when the universe decided to reward us for all the hard-work and toil with the most brilliant weather ever. With the first step of descent, the clouds starting engulfing the mountains. Pavan pointed us ahead to the mountain range being showered on by heavy rains – a sight none of us can ever forget. The clouds were making a dash to the mountain we were on and we were dashing to our place of stay to avoid rains. Suddenly, clouds came all over us, but didn’t pour over.. we just stood there, taking in the breeze and the green, the feeling cannot be described in words, just felt..

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On arriving at our stop, the brave-hearted team of 9 people in our group was welcomed with cheers and claps – the guys completed 23 kms in 5 damn hours! God help them 😛 !

For me, the most exciting part of the trek started after that when we pitched in our tents for the night. The place was at the edge of a cliff, surrounded by lush-green mountain ranges, clouds and mist. On top of that, the incredibly stupid and funny antakshari hosted by Krishna kept the night alive 🙂

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The next morning served us with the most serene views we could ever hope to lay our eyes on. See for yourself

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Well, it is at this point, when I forgot all about my backache and muscle cramps and was all smiles to take in the nature all for myself

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The descent began after a not-so-filling breakfast, Bhattaru really needs to see more cooking shows on his cable! It’s funny how the excruciatingly painful four-hour ascent to the base became an easy two hour descent 🙂

Well, 23 kms of hike, trek, and climb later, I couldn’t wait to get a shower and be done with the muck, soil, sweat and dirt. But hail the enthusiasm of my fellow riders, who would now go for play in the river 😛

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Well, lucky for me; not going to the river was a blessing in disguise to get the darshana at Subramanya temple in 10 minutes without standing in queue, which has another interesting story to itself 🙂

The journey back to Bangalore could not have been funnier and awesomer with the never ending Mafia and pass the message around games; not to forget the circuit damage between Veena and Kumar and between Deepak and Arun! Games followed by antakshari, followed by singing random songs, even bhakti ones thanks to Sravan, Krishna and Pavan – Why God why!

All the ups and downs, tears and laughter aside, the trek was a memory to be cherished. Kudos to Sagar and Pavan for making sure that over-confident trekkers ( read Ankita ) are brought down to earth 🙂 – jokes aside, you guys rock!

The message I have for my fellow trekkers which I learnt from this trek would be “Think before you climb”! 😀